Health & Wellness

Getting A CT Scan For Sciatica

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Posted By Emma Aaron

Sciatica can be highly unpleasant, and finding the cause and coming up with a proper treatment plan is the best way to cure it. Getting a CT scan is one of the best ways to do so. It is so easy and will undoubtedly help the doctors help you.

Here’s what you need to know: 

Diagnosing Sciatica

Your doctor may perform various tests and activities to get a diagnosis. This could be checking your muscle reflexes and strength, or it may be performing imaging tests. One of these tests is a computerized tomography (CT) scan.

What is a CT Scan?

A CT scan combines several x-ray images that have been taken from various angles around your whole body. It then uses computer processing to create cross-sectional pictures of the blood vessels, bones, and soft tissue inside your body.

The images from a CT scan are more detailed and provide more information than a general x-ray does.

When getting a CT scan done for your spine, a special dye is usually injected into the spine before any x-rays are taken, this is called a CT myelogram. 

After the dye has been injected, it circulates through your spinal nerves and spinal cord, appearing in white on the actual scan.

A CT scan is excellent for people who have suffered any internal injury as it can give a good visual of nearly every part of one’s body.

Also Read: How To Schedule An MRI Online

Why Is It Done?

CT scans are done for several reasons. The CT scan can detect internal bleeding or internal injuries and diagnose muscle and bone disorders. CT scans can guide specific procedures like biopsies or surgeries and monitor some diseases and treatments.

How To Prepare for a CT Scan

When getting a CT scan for Sciatica, the doctor will likely ask you to remove your clothes and put a hospital gown on instead. You will also be asked to remove any or all pieces of jewellery and metal objects.

The metal objects may include dentures, rings, watches, necklaces, belts, etc. Anything that may interfere with the results of the images needs to be removed. You also should not drink or eat anything for a few hours before your scan is done.

The doctor will need to use a special dye known as a contrast material in some cases. The dye helps highlight specific parts of your body that are getting examined. The dye helps emphasize your intestines, blood vessels, and other structures in your body.

The contrast material will either be given to you via injection. You may experience a slight metallic taste in your mouth and a warm feeling during the injection. You can also take it by mouth, but this is not common for Sciatica or done by enema.

What to Expect

A CT scan is generally done at the hospital or in an outpatient facility. The whole process is painless, the scan takes a couple of minutes, and the entire process should be finished in about 30 minutes.

A CT scanner is shaped like a big doughnut. You will lie down on a motorized and narrow table that slides into the tunnel during the actual procedure. They may use pillows and straps to ensure that you stay in the correct position.

While you lie in the scanner, the x-ray tube and detectors will rotate around you. Every rotation will capture a few images of thin slices of various parts of your body. The machine might make some whirring or buzzing sounds – this is entirely normal.

There will be a technologist in another room. You can communicate with them via an intercom. You may be asked to hold your breath now and then so that the images do not get blurred.

The Risks

You are briefly exposed to ionizing radiation during the scan. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks, and doctors use minimal doses of radiation to obtain their information.

You should avoid having a CT scan if you are pregnant, so ensure that you do tell your doctor as they may want to suggest another type of scan as a CT can be harmful to an unborn baby.

Some people do not react well to the contrast material. This is very rare, though, and it is generally mild if there is a reaction and will only result in itchiness or a rash.

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Final Thoughts

A CT scan is quick, painless, and beneficial as it can help doctors diagnose you and start a course of treatment. Sciatica can be painful and make your daily life harder than it needs to be. A CT scan can help with a treatment plan so that you can start recovering.

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